Bless Me, Ultima Questions and Answers
by Rudolfo Anaya

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What is the significance of the Golden Carp in Bless Me, Ultima?   

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In Bless Me Ultima,nthe Golden Carp is a pagan deity that Antonio learns about during his crisis of faith. The Golden Carp is symbolically representative of pagan religions that existed in North America before the Spanish colonization. While Antonio is deeply entrenched in the Catholic faith, he is rocked by the failure of his religion to answer his questions, and in his time of doubt, he is confronted with the reality of the Golden Carp and how it represents the part of him that is not Spanish but Native American.

While the Carp is first introduced to Antonio as a story, it becomes a reality when he sees it in the river. Antonio realizes that the Carp, like Ultima’s magic, fills a void that his religion cannot, and he begins to question the validity of the Catholic God. Eventually, after going through nearly every struggle in the story, including a lackluster first communion, Antonio realizes that he can create harmony between all the convergent parts of his life.

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robyn-bird96 | Student

The golden carp is like an allusion to the fish of Christianity blended with the ancient stories of the Native Americans.  It's presence is powerful and the story behind it is similar to many myths, one of recreation and wanting to protect its people.  The golden carp itself is beautiful, and Tony has been struck by it.  That sudden "illumination of beauty and understanding flashed through [his] mind," but then he realized that "this is what [he] had expected God to do at his first holy communion" (119).  Is this sin?  But there is a presence in the river that Antonio feels.  What are you supposed to believe in?  Can you believe in God, but in nature as well?  Where is God when you need him?

The golden carp is a physical manifestation of the personal struggle Antonio has to make about his faith.